Entries Tagged as 'Windows 7'

bootrec.exe

Bootrec.exe, available as part of repair from the command line can resolve a number of start up issues on Windows.  It comes in quite handy for replacing the master boot record (MBR) and boot loader (a good way to remove a multi-boot manager like GRUB).

 Be sure you understand what you’re doing it you choose to use it.

 Use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows

Originally posted 2013-11-13 17:00:09.

Windows Symbolic Links

I really hate to use drive letters; that’s the one thing Windows has inherited from DOS that should have been eliminated a very long time ago; or at least made into an “alias” and deprecated as a “fixture”.

NTFS has supported reparse points for a fairly long time; you may well have seen the type “<JUNCTION>” when you did a directory list from the command line.

Reparse points are a fairly generic phrase for a set of features that have grown in NTFS over the years, and they’re effectively the same as *nix link (both hard and soft).

Here are some interesting things you can do with reparse points using the MKLINK tool that ships with Windows 7.

You can create a file reference in a number of directories; that only consumes a directory entry, the file only exists a single time on the disk… if you make it a hard link (the default is a soft link) the file isn’t deleted until all links are deleted.

You can do the same with a directory — make it appear in more than one location.

You can make references across file systems (including drives and the network) just as easily.

For me, I use it to create references to network resources so that they appear on a local machine (I used to use DFS mainly for this and map a single drive letter)…

Anyway, this is another seldomly used feature of Windows that can really help to make it a much more usable system — unfortunately for those it would benefit the most, it’s difficult for them to setup the symbolic links.

Originally posted 2009-12-16 01:00:22.

Windows 7 – Virtualization

So you’ve upgraded to Windows 7 and now your considering the options for running virtual machines…

If you have a PC that’s capable of hardware assisted virtualization (I-VT or AMD-V) and you’re running Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate the decision is fairly easy; use the virtualization technology from Microsoft that provides you with Virtual XP mode (as well as generalized virtualization).

However, if you don’t have a PC capable of hardware virtualization or you didn’t spring for the more expensive version of Windows you have some good (free) choices.

While Microsoft doesn’t officially support Virtual PC 2007 SP1 on Windows 7, since it was designed to run under Vista it will work.  The real downside is that you have fairly old virtualization technology emulating an antiquated hardware.

You could consider buying VMware or Parallels, but why spend money when there’s a better free alternative for personal use…

That would be – VirtualBox (yes, I’ve harped on VirtualBox for the Mac before, and now it’s time to harp on VirtualBox on the PC).

VirtualBox is a project sponsored by Sun Microsystems.  They’ve actually been working on virtualization technology for a very long time, and their virtualization technology is top notch. 

VirtualBox will run on several different operating system, you can even share the virtual machine files between operating systems if you like.  But one of the really nice things about VirtualBox is that it will support machines with or without hardware assisted virtualization and it emulates very modern hardware (which makes the paravirtualization of devices much more efficient).

Unless you have specific requirements that force you to choose other virtualization software, I would recommend you take a good look at VirtualBox.

VirtualBox

Originally posted 2009-11-14 01:00:43.

Microsoft Security Essentials

A few years ago Microsoft® provided a free Beta of it’s Anti-Virus solution; and Beta users were provided with one free license to continue to use the “One Care” branded Anti-Virus.

Now (as of 29 September 2009 – yesterday) Microsoft is once again providing a free Anti-Virus for “genuine” Windows.

Personally I use Avast’s free version; I’d consider using the Microsoft AV on servers, but the free version only support desktop versions of Windows (like Avast).

http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/

Originally posted 2009-09-30 01:00:29.

Windows 7 – 32-bit or 64-bit?

So you’ve got your new copy of Microsoft® Windows 7 and you’re ready to install it on your computer… but you have to decide whether to use the 32-bit install DVD or the 64-bit install DVD.

There’s obviously special cases that might force you to use one version or the other, but if that’s the case you should have the question eating at you.

First thing is does you processor and motherboard support 64-bits?  If it doesn’t, then the choice is easy because you don’t have one — you’ll be using 32-bits.

Second, is your computer limited to 2GB or 4GB of memory?  If it is, then the answer is simple — you’ll want to use 32-bit.

Third, does you computer have 4GB or less or memory?  If it does, then you have to ask yourself if you’re going to upgrade your computer soon.  Take a look at memory prices, it may be more feasible to actually buy a new computer with a fast processor, better video, etc.  But that’s a decision you’ll have to make.  If you’re not likely to put more than 4GB of memory in your computer you’ll want to use 32-bit.

If your computer will have more than 4GB of memory you will likely want to use 64-bit.

These guidelines are only that, and your specific needs may have many more complex requirements — but don’t deceive yourself into thinking you need to put a 64-bit version of Windows 7 on a computer that will never be able to really take advantage of it; you will in all likelihood decrease your performance.

Originally posted 2009-10-26 01:00:59.

Windows 7 – Which edition is right for you?

So you want to upgrade to Microsoft® Windows 7, but you’re not sure which version is the right choice…

Essentially there are only three choices for consumers in the US this time: Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate… and certainly you can go through the matrix and figure out what’s best, but here’s my advice.

If your computer won’t be used in a business setting where it’s necessary that you join a domain (Active Directory Service) then you may not need anything more than Home Premium.  If you have ADS on your home network, consider therapy.

If your computer is not capable of hardware virtualization (you can use the detection tool below) then you won’t be able to use the Virtual XP mode of Professional or Ultimate.

If your motherboard doesn’t have the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) you won’t be able to use the enhanced security of Professional or Ultimate.

The only other useful feature in Professional/Ultimate that’s not in Home Premium is the ability to be an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) server that would allow remote access from another machine.  All versions support remote assistance requests.

There’s absolutely no reason to buy a higher end version than you can use; it will not run any faster or better.  The version you install will be locked to the hardware you install it on, and it’s hard to move it to another computer (it might be impossible).

Don’t waste your money by stroking your ego — buy the version that fits your hardware and your needs best; and for most people that’s going to be Home Premium.

Microsoft® Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool

Originally posted 2009-10-25 01:00:38.

Virtulization, Virtulization, Virtulization

For a decade now I’ve been a fan of virtulization (of course, that’s partially predicated on understanding what virtualization is, and how it works — and it’s limitation).

For software developers it offers a large number of practical uses… but more and more the average computer user is discovering the benefits of using virtual machines.

In Windows 7 Microsoft has built the “Windows XP” compatibility feature on top of virtualization (which means to use it you’ll need a processor that supports hardware virtualization — so many low end computers and notebooks aren’t going to have the ability to use the XP compatability feature).

While Windows 7 might make running older programs a seamless, you can (of course) install another virtualization package and still run older software.

Which virtualization package to choose???

Well, for me it’s an easy choice…

  • Windows Server 2008 on machines that have hardware virtualization – HyperV
  • Windows 7 on machines that have hardware virtualization – Virtual PC
  • All others (Windows, OS-X, Linux) – Virtual Box

Now, the disclaimers… if I were running a commercial enterprise; and I didn’t want to spend the money to buy Windows Server 2008, Microsoft does offer Windows Server 2008 – Virtual Server Edition for no cost (you really need one Windows Server 2008 in order to effectively manage it — but you can install the tools on Vista if you really don’t have it in your budget to buy a single license).

And no, I wouldn’t choose Linux OR OS-X as the platform to run a commercial virtualization infrastructure on… simply because device support for modern hardware (and modern hardware is what you’re going to base a commercial virtualization infrastructure on if you’re serious) is unparalleled PERIOD.

If you’re running Vista or Vista 64 you may decide to user Virtual PC ( a better choice would be Virtual Server 2005 R2); but Virtual Box is being actively developed, and it’s hardware reference for virtualization is much more modern (and I feel a better choice).

To make it simple… the choice comes down to Microsoft HyperV derived technology or Virtual Box.  Perhaps if I were a *nix biggot I’d put Xen in the loop, but like with so many Linux centric projects there are TOO MANY distributions, and too many splinter efforts.

One last note; keep in mind that you need a license for any operating system that you run in a virtual environment.

Originally posted 2009-08-12 01:00:34.

Restoring Windows Boot Manager

If you’ve tried Linux (or another operating system) on your PC, and you’d like to return to just the Windows boot manager (and perhaps remove the other operating system) or if the boot manager that was installed is no longer working here’s a quick way to recover.

First, find your Windows installation disc (or an equivalent Windows installation disc).

Boot into install; on the first setup screen hit Shift+F10, that will open up a command prompt.

Execute the following commands:

  • bootrec /FixMbr
  • bootrec /FixBoot

Now reboot…

The Windows boot manager should be in control — you may need to correct the BCD entries, but generally those will be fine.

You may also want to review: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

Originally posted 2013-12-30 12:00:31.

Windows 7 – Multiple Displays

I have multiple displays on both my “high end” workstations.  The one I’ve been testing Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on happens to have two nVidia 9800 PCIe display adapters and three 22″ LCD display panels (I plan on hooking up a 37″ LCD TV to the forth output when I upgrade my 42″ Plasma TV).

The three panels worked great with Vista Ultimate x64, and I didn’t have any problem doing a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on the machine.  The monitors didn’t default to the same arrangement they did on Vista — but it was easy to reorder them.

One problem I’ve noted (and yes we can partially blame this on the PC BIOS) is that if I boot the machine without any of the monitors powered up, I get a different primary monitor and non of the other monitors are active (I can force them active).

This problem is all to reminiscent of the SATA drive problem I found installing on multiple drives — but there’s really no apparent way to force Windows 7 to always pick the same default monitor (whether they are on or off).

So yet another feature that worked fine in Vista that’s broken (or at least changed) in Windows 7.

Make sure you have all your monitors on; or at least your primary monitor; when you boot up Windows 7!!!

 

NOTE:  This problem appears to be related to multiple identical display adapters, and appears to not be an issue if you just have two displays on a single card.

Originally posted 2009-11-19 01:00:03.

Office Applications for Windows 7

Microsoft has announced the release of Office 2010 first quarter of next year available in both 32-bit and 64-bit; and I’m sure it will be a fine application suite; I’m sure it will also be expensive.

I tried Office 2007 when I first moved to Windows Vista, but I found it very difficult to figure out how to do even simple tasks; so I stuck with Office 2003.

Now I’m at the point that I’m reconsidering my needs in an office suite, and I’m finding that I really only use very basic features, and I value a consistent, simple interface over most anything else (well, that’s assuming that the software works).

A good friend of mine has been using OpenOffice for quite sometime now, and he’s been extremely happy with it.

I’d looked at OpenOffice a few years ago, but I’ve never really been a fan of any software written in Java that requires the JRE (I’ve always found it to be sluggish).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.

I downloaded OpenOffice (for Windows) and installed it on my work station.

My initial test was to open up some of the more complicated documents I had; not that I really have any documents that are that complicated.  It worked, it worked well, and it was fast.

I played with it a little more, and then I decided to take a look at how much disk space it consumed… it was tiny compared to Office 2003.

Then I decide to create a few new documents and spreadsheets with it — no problem, it seemed to do everything I needed.

WOW.

I just don’t know what else to say… why would I pay Microsoft for a huge suite of office applications that I rarely use; and use only a small fraction of the features???

OpenOffice is available for a number of operating systems, and works fine on Windows 7.

A good way to save some money on your computer needs is switch over to OpenOffice when you upgrade to Windows 7.

OpenOffice.org

Originally posted 2009-11-15 01:00:48.